Here comes Santa Claus ... and a sleigh full of confusion about Christmas trees. Better to buy real or better to buy artificial?
Popular myths are that real trees are bad for the environment, artificial trees make more financial sense and real trees are just a hassle, but read on for some facts that will set the record straight and some thoughts that might turn your head on some of the more subjective sides of the debate.
If your No. 1 concern is the environment, your No. 1 choice should be a real tree. Growing, using and recycling real Christmas trees is good for the environment. Research shows that when compared on an annual basis, the artificial tree has three times more impacts on climate change and resource depletion than the natural tree.
Real Christmas trees are biodegradable and can even be recycled or reused for mulch, and every year the circle of life continues. Artificial trees are petroleum-based products and most are imported from overseas. Many are thrown away seven to 10 years after they're purchased, and every year the landfills where they will stay (literally for centuries) get a little bit bigger.
Still don't like the idea of cutting down a tree? Remember that just like the Halloween pumpkin you carve with your kids or the fresh-cut flowers you buy for a loved one on special occasions, real Christmas trees are farmer-planted and hand-harvested specifically for people to enjoy. And, for every real Christmas tree harvested, a new tree is planted.
If it's your wallet that worries you, keep in mind that it's no surprise that artificial things frequently cost less than real things. True, not everyone agrees “you get what you pay for,” but there's a second economic case to be made for buying a real Christmas tree: Real Christmas trees provide real business for real farmers. Fully 100 percent of real Christmas trees sold in the U.S. are grown in North America.
Every choice is a trade-off. What you gain with the ease of an artificial tree, you lose in the experience of a real tree. To be fair, this is subjective. But years from now, which do you think you'll remember more warmly: assembling a plastic tree you pulled out of the attic that looks exactly the same year after year, or bringing home and decorating a real tree that you enjoyed hunting for with your friends and family?
Selecting a real Christmas tree makes memories. The hunt for a real Christmas tree can create an experience – everything from the scent to the search – that simply can't be manufactured and that no artificial tree can replace.